Delta Competency Model

The Delta Model working group currently consists of:
Alyson Carrel, Assistant Dean of Law & Technology, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Natalie Runyon, Director & Head of Talent Platform, Legal Executive Institute, Thomson Reuters
Shellie Reid, 2L Michigan State University School of Law
Cat Moon, Director of Innovation Design, Program in Law and Innovation, Vanderbilt Law School
Gabe Teninbaum, Director, Institute on Law Practice Tech. & Innovation; Suffolk University Law School

 

What is the Delta Model?

The Delta Model is a new competency model for the 21st-century legal professional. The Delta Model consists of three competency areas crucial to the success of today’s legal professional: The Law, Business & Operations, and Personal Effectiveness Skills. This model recognizes that 21st century lawyers must start with a base of deep legal knowledge and skills. Building off the notion of a T-shaped Lawyer, lawyers also must understand the impact of technology on their client’s business as well as their own delivery of legal services—appreciating the power of data, technology , and process improvement. But with the increasing reliance and utilization of technology and machine learning, lawyers also must encompass the emotional intelligence and communication skills to effectively work with clients.


 

Learn More about the Delta Model:

How Does the Delta Model Work?

 

How Might the Delta Model Positively Impact the Future of the Legal Profession?

Why is the Delta Model Necessary?


 

What do you think?

Share your comments with us: a-carrel AT law.northwestern.edu or share your thoughts below:


The Delta Model in Action

You can play with this version of the dynamic competency model by clicking on the midpoint of the triangle and moving it around to reflect your own career goals.

 
 

The Delta Model Project

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The Delta Model consists of three competency areas crucial to the success of today’s legal professional: legal knowledge & skills, process data & technology, personal effectiveness skills & communication. This model recognizes that 21st century lawyers must start with a base of deep legal knowledge and skills. Building off the notion of a T-shaped Lawyer, lawyers also must understand the impact of technology on their client’s business as well as their own delivery of legal services - A lawyer must appreciate the power of data and analytics, technology tools available, and that processes can be improved and made more efficient. But with the increasing reliance and utilization of technology and machine learning, lawyers also must encompass the emotional intelligence and communication skills to effectively work with clients.

The idea of a Delta Model Lawyer developed out of a conference hosted by Professor Dan Linna at Michigan State’s LegalRnD Lab. During the conference, I worked with Natalie Runyon from Thomson Reuters, Jordan Galvin from Mayer Brown, Shellie Reid a student at Michigan State Law School, and Jesse Bowman, a colleague at Northwestern Law. We all recognized the value of the T-shaped Lawyer and the notion that lawyers must expand their understanding of process, data, and technology. But we also noticed a renewed call to focus on the unique human element in lawyering in response to the innovation and technological advances occurring in legal services. So we flipped the T-shaped Lawyer on its side and added a third component, Personal Effectiveness Skills, to capture the lawyer’s role as counselor and trusted advisor.

Cat Moon, from Vanderbilt, and Gabe Teninbaum, from Suffolk have joined the working group’s research project to validate the model. We are currently surveying individuals charged with hiring lawyers in corporate legal departments as well as large law firms to determine which attributes are most important to success in these environments. In the meantime, I have been developing the model further as a possible education and training tool to inform an individual of the competencies they need to develop based on an analysis of the competencies they bring in to the situation and the competencies unique to the career and position within the legal field they want to achieve. I am exploring how this model can be used by all legal professionals, including our allied professionals who don’t necessarily practice the law, but are part of the legal service industry. Although all legal professionals need competencies in all three areas to succeed, they will need to master these competencies to different degrees based on the unique position they choose. For instance, a lawyer working at a white shoe law firm may have access to more resources in the areas of data, process, and technology. And so while they must be knowledgeable and skilled in these areas, they may not need the same degree of mastery as someone who chooses to work at a legal tech start-up. Another example would be the individual who is moving into a legal operations position at the law firm. This individual still needs to have the legal knowledge and skills, but will need to deepen their mastery of process improvement and data analytics. In order for the model to reflect these differences, it needs to be more dynamic and pluralistic.

 
Dynamic Delta Model v.3

Dynamic Delta Model v.3

In the fall of 2018, I worked with Don Undeen, Manager of Georgetown University’s Maker Hub, to create a new Dynamic Delta Model that introduces a moveable midpoint. This moveable midpoint reflects the different depths to which legal professionals need to master each of these competencies. In this way, the model can retain the brilliance of the T-shaped Lawyer’s differentiation between a mastery of legal knowledge & skills and a broad understanding of data, process, and technology. To create this differentiation, the midpoint can be moved to create the visualization of more or less depth in each competency area. As the midpoint moves, the surface area associated with each set of competencies grows or shrinks, representing the depth to which an individual needs to master each competency. The more surface area created, the greater depth of mastery the professional needs to gain. With additional research, we can create a standardized competency map for different types of careers: Big Law, Legal Solutions Architect, Solo Practitioner, Public Interest Attorney, Legal Operations, General Counsel, etc.

Individuals can use these different career competency maps to determine how much training in each competency they need in order to successfully pursue different careers. To fully realize the benefit of this more dynamic model, we could also design an assessment that determines the individuals pre-existing skills and overlay that assessment on top of the chosen career competency map and visually see the areas he needs to develop. For instance, a law student with an existing skill set in computer science pursuing a career in Big Law might determine that they have sufficient training in computer science but need to develop more skills in personal effectiveness skills. The combination of different delta model competency maps and individualized assessments allows an individual to more successfully tailor their curricular and professional development choices based on their existing skillset and the skills need for a particular career.